Planning is the creation of a path you wish your organization to follow. The true key value of any organizational strategic, mission, vision or value statement is to identify when you and or your company have veered off that path.
Small to Mid size businesses (under $100 MM) in many cases are more reactive and less proactive in their approach to planning for the future and subsequently running their companies day to day.
I am reminded of the old joke that men don’t stop to ask directions because men don’t care if they’re lost as long as they’re were making good time. In business planning that applies to executives of both genders.
If sales and profits are up, growth and value are on the incline, why mess with success? The answer is simple, without planning how can you know that the numbers you are reviewing are the best they can be?
How can you be sure they are sustainable? Just because costs are at or below budget doesn’t make them the right number and conversely just because your sales and profits numbers are at or above targets doesn’t make them right either.
Planning lets you identify issues that take time to correct: sales, collections, managerial staff and skill sets, sales to client ratios. Planning let’s you focus on systems or processes that might not be toxic today but if left alone would and could cause irreparable harm to any organization, cash flow, underfunded new initiatives . Planning also helps in the identification of black holes of unintended consequences.
If you go to a surgeon for advice on your rotator cuff it’s always interesting that the process to make it better will almost always be surgery. Many owners and CEO’s are from the sales and marketing departments. So guess which way many problems are corrected? That’s right let’s throw more focus at sales and marketing.
Strengths in one area of an organization can cause catastrophic failures in another. When is the right time to sell your way out of a problem and when is it the right time to cut costs and services to get you out of trouble? The answer is very technical so pay close attention, it depends.
For sales It depends on value and demand for your product as well as your access to capital and the ability to ramp up to successfully meet additional sales demand. For costs it depends on your ability to identify and remove unimportant, redundant, out of date systems and processes. And how do you determine which way to go and which systems to correct……Planning.
I am performing a pro active due-diligence system review plan for a client right now. In less than half a day we had reviewed the current financial and accounting plans and determined that the client needed to change a process they had long ago outgrown. Their accounts receivable system had been originally planned to be very protective of wasteful spending and required the owner to sign every check over a certain dollar amount.
Though the system needed to be revised based on current conditions, we were able to do so because a plan had been used to establish it based a goal of eliminating wasteful spending. If that system had not been established, the problems may have been worse.
Now lets’ take a minute and hit on the mission, vision and value statements which are really more subjective and are designed to define who you are and what you stand for rather that the more metrics centric strategic, sales, marketing and financial plans.

A mission statement is a very brief statement of that describes the fundamental reasons that the organization exists. A mission statement focuses primarily on the present. The mission statement should represent the path and basis for how the vision statement will be achieved. This is where the values of the organization regarding its products, services and all its stakeholders. A good mission will also describe what the company is and what it hopes to become. A piece that should be included in every mission statement (which is missing from most) is a company’s commitment to itself and to the accomplishment of the mission. This means that a commitment to profitability clearly stated. A clearly written mission statement can be used to help resolve conflicts between people and departments

A vision statement is very clear and accurate description of a desired outcome that inspires energizes and helps your organization create and sustain a mental picture of your target. It could be a vision for your company, or the outcome of a project or goal. A vision statement focuses primarily on the future. A powerful vision statement should make the organization, division or team stretch their comfort zones and force them to new levels of creativity and productivity. Even thought a vision statement is future focused it should be crystal clear and absent of ambiguity. A vision statement is traditionally longer than a mission statement and usually encompasses a longer view than a mission statement. As an example: in the early 80's, one of Microsoft's visions was "by turn of the century every PC would be running Microsoft software" and while that isn’t exactly true and they still have some room for improvement they have done a pretty amazing job of realizing their vision.

The value statement should be the cornerstone of every well run company. This is where the organization addresses how people are expected behave toward each other, their clients and their vendors. A value statement can help an organization determine where revenues should be spent first by defining what the most important priorities of the organization are. This is a great list of values that can be addressed in a value statement: ambition, competency, individuality, equality, integrity, service, responsibility, accuracy, respect, dedication, diversity, improvement, enjoyment/fun, loyalty, credibility, honesty, innovativeness, teamwork, excellence, accountability, empowerment, quality, efficiency, dignity, collaboration, stewardship, empathy, accomplishment, courage, wisdom, independence, security, challenge, influence, learning, compassion, friendliness, discipline/order, generosity, persistence, optimism, dependability, flexibility. As you can see this is a very valuable and powerful tool.
There are of course as many definitions for these types of plans as there are planners. I only offer what I have found works for me and my clients.

If all this seems overwhelming then I encourage you to try one of the simplest and best tools I have ever seen for general planning, Every year spend 5 hours focused on the year ahead (no other interruptions). Then follow the plan with three hours each month and one hour each week. Finally every day spend 20 minutes planning the day ahead. Try it, you’ll be amazed.

“The wise man bridges the gap by laying out the path by means of which he can get from where he is to where he wants to go.” John Pierpont (JP) Morgan

John Chappelear is an author, consultant and Certified Exit Planning Advisor. Chappelear’s company Strategic Exit Institute, LLC provides educational programs, organizational planning and Strategic Exit Planning for clients.
He is internationally recognized as a life balance, leadership, and communications expert. His first book The Daily Six won “Best Book” award from USA Book News.

For more information visit the web site: or send an email to:

Author's Bio: 

John Chappelear is an author, consultant and Certified Exit Planning Advisor. Chappelear’s company Changing the Focus, LLC creates productive, creative, and profitable organizations.
He is internationally recognized as a life balance, leadership, and communications expert. His book The Daily Six won the USA Book News award for best self help book.
For more information visit the web site: or send an e-mail to: